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Monday, April 20, 2015

16-YEAR-OLD AMANDLA STENBERG SCHOOLS US ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IN POWERFUL VIDEO | @SophisticatedRelations

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“What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?”
That’s the question 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg, the actress most known for her role as Rue in “Hunger Games,” left viewers in a video she made on the relevance of black culture and its appropriation by mass media.
And yes, you read that right — she’s only 16.
The wisdom Stenberg shared was part of a project she and another classmate created for their history class, which Stenberg later published to her Tumblr page. As a result, she powerfully schools her classmates — and the public — on the history of black hairstyles and hip-hop, their merger with mainstream music and how this has ultimately led to the (mis)appropriation of black culture.
“Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated but is deemed as high-fashion, cool or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” Stenberg explains in her video, appropriately titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows.”
“Hip hop stems from a black struggle, it stems from jazz and blues, styles of music African-Americans created to retain humanity in the face of adversity,” Stenberg said. “On a smaller scale but in a similar vein, braids and cornrows are not merely stylistic. They’re necessary to keep black hair neat.”